FAQs – How Does ECFA Accreditation and Compliance Work?

With over 2,400 Christ-centered churches and ministries now accredited by ECFA, you’ve probably seen ECFA’s recognized seal on a ministry’s website, social media, or giving materials.

What exactly does ECFA accreditation mean, and how does an organization earn the right to display ECFA’s seal of financial integrity?

Keep reading to learn more!

What is ECFA?

Founded 40 years ago by Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders, ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) has grown from a visionary and faithful group of 150 charter members to over 2,400 leading churches and ministries across the United States today.

ECFA enhances trust in Christ-centered churches and ministries through its annual accreditation of organizations based on Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™, drawn from Scripture.

ECFA serves as a financial accountability partner to ministries who voluntarily seek accreditation and continue to faithfully demonstrate their commitment to ECFA’s high standards. The standards are set at an appropriately high level to provide the essential guardrails for financial integrity in churches and ministries of all sizes. While admittedly the standards do not address every potential issue or challenge an organization may encounter, they have stood the test of time in helping thousands of churches and ministries enhance trust and become better stewards of their God-given resources.

Additionally, ECFA promotes financial accountability and best practices through innovative resources, including books and eBooks, webinars, podcasts, blogs, research in best practices, conferences, and more.

Where can I learn more about ECFA’s standards?

ECFA’s standards focus on independent board governance, sound financial management, and responsible stewardship.

The standards set a high bar for organizations—often far above the minimums required by law. For example, an ECFA member must annually engage an independent CPA to audit, review, or compile its financial statements and be willing to provide a copy of its latest financial statements to anyone upon written request.

Learn more about ECFA’s integrity standards for ministries at ECFA.org/Standards.

Is ECFA an auditor or fraud examiner?

No. Although ECFA is led by experienced, professional staff with credentials in accounting, finance, and law, ECFA does not offer financial audits or other professional services for members.

But as a condition for accreditation, ECFA requires its members to have their annual financial statements audited, reviewed, or compiled by an independent CPA.    

How does ECFA ensure compliance with its standards? 

ECFA carefully ensures member compliance with its standards through a variety of means including:

  • A rigorous initial application process to confirm compliance with the ECFA standards;
  • Annual re-accreditation/renewal process, including review of financial statements and other supporting documents which attest to a member’s continued compliance with the standards;
  • Periodic reviews, on-site and remote utilizing our Standards Check-In program for compliance with standards; and
  • Referrals from givers and others who may have questions about a member’s compliance with the standards.

If an area of non-compliance with the standards is identified, ECFA seeks to restore its members back into compliance through a confidential, biblical and redemptive approach.

Visit ECFA Compliance Reviews to learn more about our compliance review process.

Does ECFA ever take disciplinary action against its members?

Yes. As an accrediting organization, ECFA protects the integrity of its standards and seal. ECFA takes action against member organizations who are unable or unwilling to comply in a timely manner with any of the standards. Depending on the circumstance, ECFA may request the resignation of a member, suspend membership for a period of time, or terminate an organization’s membership.

As the basis for any disciplinary action, ECFA relies upon facts and documentation—not allegations or innuendos. While it takes time to proceed thoughtfully and deliberately in these matters, doing so is critical to arrive at a fair and true determination regarding an organization’s membership status.

How is ECFA funded?

ECFA’s ministry is supported primarily through annual membership fees. These fees are calculated on a sliding scale so that membership is affordable for organizations of all sizes.

With over 2,400 supporting members, ECFA’s determinations regarding compliance with its standards are not influenced by the annual membership fee of individual organizations. Rather, review criteria have been objectively identified and are uniformly applied to all member organizations.

If you appreciate ECFA’s ministry to enhance trust in Christ-centered churches and ministries, you can also make an individual gift to support ECFA by clicking here.

Is ECFA itself accountable?

Absolutely. ECFA abides by all of the same standards it expects of its members, including independent board governance, annual CPA audits, and appropriate transparency.

ECFA staff are accountable to the Board of Directors, consisting of national ministry leaders and professionals respected for their Christian character and wisdom. The independent Board is elected by the ECFA membership and is subject to term limits.

See also ECFA’s Bylaws and IRS Form 990 with ministry financial updates for the three most recent years. 

Who are the current members of ECFA?

ECFA members are located across the U.S. and U.S. territories and range from the very large national ministries to smaller local ministries and churches.

See our "Find a Member" tool for a searchable list of current members based on ministry type, location, and other characteristics.

How can I give to an ECFA member?

ServantMatch® is provided by ECFA to allow donors to quickly and easily find giving opportunities for participating ECFA-accredited organizations. ServantMatch® allows you to search for opportunities that match your interests!

The funds given through ServantMatch® go directly to ECFA’s members, with no overhead assessed by ECFA.

How can my ministry become ECFA-accredited?

We welcome your application at ECFA.org/Join!

The online application form is confidential, user-friendly and takes only a few minutes to get started.

After you’ve submitted the form, an ECFA advisor will follow up with more information and to schedule a call to discuss the ECFA standards and membership requirements in more detail.

What if I have other questions?

The online contact form is a quick and convenient tool if you have additional questions regarding ECFA or one of its members.

Thank you again for your interest in ECFA!